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<style>.post-37421 .entry-title{color: }</style>311
<style>.post-37421 .entry-title{color: }</style>311

Edward Said


By Najla Said

On November 1, 1935, my father, Edward W. Said, was born in Jerusalem. His parents had made sure that his birth took place at home, as they had lost their first child shortly after his birth in a modern hospital in Cairo. “Home” to my grandparents meant not only their actual family residence but also Jerusalem itself, where the Said family had lived for generations.

Edward Said and sisters Rosemarie, Jean, Joyce, and Grace. Cairo 1950s

As a German Jewish midwife prayed over him in both Hebrew and Arabic, my father entered this world on the second floor of the two-story stone house in Talbiyeh, an upscale Christian neighborhood in West Jerusalem, which his nuclear family shared with the family of his father Wadie’s sister, Nabiha. Nabiha was married to her first cousin Boulous Said, who eventually became Wadie’s partner in business at the Palestine Educational Company near Mamilla Gate.When Wadie Said was a child, the family name was Ibrahim, Wadie’s father’s first name, which was consistent with the custom of using the father’s first name as the family name. Wadie’s mother was Hanneh Shamas. She too came from a well-known Jerusalemite family. Like all the male members of the Said family, including his son Edward, Wadie attended Madrasat al-Moutran in Jerusalem (St. George’s Anglican School). He then emigrated to the United States as a young teenager before WWI to avoid serving in the Ottoman army. After a decade in the States, where he joined the army, became a US citizen, and changed his name to William, he returned to Palestine in the late 1930s to marry and start a family of his own.
With his immediate family – his wife Hilda Musa, son Edward, and their four daughters Rosemary, Jean, Joyce, and Grace – Wadie left Jerusalem for Cairo in December 1947 as fighting in the city accelerated. Just a few short years later, Edward, who received a US passport at birth, was sent to boarding school in Massachusetts. He subsequently attended Princeton and earned a PhD from Harvard, finally becoming a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, where he taught for 40 years.Not only a renowned scholar and literary critic, Edward was also the most outspoken advocate for Palestinian human rights in America during his lifetime. In fact, through his remarkable talent for both writing and speaking, he essentially became a leader for Palestinians all over the world, encouraging them to hold on to their own stories, their own truths, and their own narratives. Thanks to his contributions, “Palestinian” became synonymous with pride, strength, and defiance, instead of fear, apprehension, and concealment.

Twenty years after his passing, Edward Said is still remembered and revered today as a heroic and true public intellectual.

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